According to The Department of Energy (DOE), the United States has 4,000 GW of offshore wind energy potential, with the strongest winds located off the North Eastern Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). There are currently no operational offshore wind farms in the country, but the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has identified 18 states which are involved in early stage offshore wind projects. High profile offshore projects like Cape Wind have faced stiff opposition over the last decade and the first project to begin construction, Block Island, has only recently done so.
Utilities and regulators have raised concerns about electricity prices and difficulties in securing financing for these projects. Public opposition has voiced concerns about scenic and environmental impacts, as well as shared ocean use for fisheries and recreation. The resulting legal battles have injected a large amount of uncertainty into the industry’s future and highlighted what some see as shortcomings in state policy addressing offshore wind.
A recent report co-authored by Navigant Consulting and the Clean Energy Group concludes that “current offshore wind policy isn’t working.” The report recommends that states should coordinate policies to streamline regulatory, financing, procurement, and permitting in order to increase market access for offshore wind projects, sharing costs and benefits regionally. The authors suggest that by doing so, they could lower project costs and risk while increasing regional energy reliability, diversity, and help with meeting federal environmental regulations.